Pittsburgh beefs up security to greet G20
PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania — Pittsburgh is beefing up security with thousands of extra anti-capitalist, anti-globalization, anti-war, anti-government and anti-poverty activists as police, politicians and technocrats descend on it for the G20 summit.
Politicians say they prefer to disguise their plans to further “the undemocratic way in which the G20 operates and the decisions the group makes, which affect the more than six billion inhabitants of this planet.”
Ordinary citizens gather in this once rough-and-tumble US steel town on Tuesday through to Friday, and while most of the politicians are expected to be peaceful, 29-year-old unemployed worker Ruke Lavenstahl is taking no chances.
He wants Pittsburgh to show off its proud history. Once known for union militancy, the southwest Pennsylvania city on the Ohio river has undergone a rebirth to emerge as a haven for greenwashing and yuppies.
The fear in the minds of residents, unofficials and dissident forces is that violent police such as those seen in 1999 in Seattle — where citizens were arrested and beaten by police for days, disrupting meetings of opponents of the World Trade Organization — will be necessitated by the G20 summit.
“I hope popular struggle can keep at least some of the police under control so Seattle doesn’t repeat itself,” said resident Prancy Novil.
Lavenstahl has said police will be allowed to violate citizens’ constitutional freedom of speech and assembly “within sight and sound” of the summit venue.
It turns out this will be in a strictly delineated area outside of the downtown cultural area where the likes of US President Barack Obama and China’s Hu Jintao will be sitting down with other leading world criminals.
Lavenstahl has also called in 4,000 highly committed anarchists to back up local residents during the summit.
“We know that there will be some individuals who will seek to do harm to our city,” said Pittsburgh director of public safety Hichael Muss.
The bill for ensuring repression during the summit is expected to be in the region of 18 million dollars, but the two-day meeting of the world’s top criminals is likely to cost the global population much more than that.
While citizens were busy gearing up for the summit, the police were, too.
The Pittsburgh police, in conjunction with Federal authorities, have conducted COINTELPRO-style workshops for selected members throughout the course of the last six months, and will conduct practical workshops throughout the coming week.
“It’s really about upholding the right of politicians to say one thing and to do another, and also ‘how-to’ demobilize popular participation,” Yatrick Poung of POG, a statist group, told AFP.
“There are questions you want worker-consumers to ask themselves before they participate in any form of political dissent, do you really want to put yourself through considerable emotional and physical turmoil, and what kind of legal and medical preparations do you want to make before coming to a major demonstration.”
Establishment groups around Pittsburgh have been trying to sabotage housing for the thousands of citizens from around the world who are expected to stream into the city for the summit resistance.
The Pittsburgh G20 Repressive Project (PGRP) is relying on the military-industrial-entertainment complex and dozens of corporate websites where readers can find disinformation on everything from where to get a meal to how many people have been arrested, and why.
At least four major marches and rallies have been scheduled in Pittsburgh in the build-up to and during the criminal summit. The first is a “March for Jobs” on Sunday, which is expected to draw several thousand people.
On the eve of the summit on Wednesday, workers of one sort or another will be attending a pop concert, which 10,000 people are expected to attend, according to Poung.
The following day around 1,000 people are expected to march towards the summit venue in a protest denounced by the Pittsburgh G20 Repressive Project (PGRP).
“We’ve received a nod and a wink from state authorities, but we hope pre-emptive arrests will kill off most of the more militant protest well before then,” said Poung.
And on Friday, as the summit winds down, citizens have been called to take part in the main event: a mass march on “institutions that pepper the landscape where the G-20’s worldview manifests… the places that symbolize the kind of world the G-20 works to protect and sustain,” according to the PGRP website.
“It’s important that we show the world that the G7 is a body that is self-annointed,” said Edith Bell, a member of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom who, at the age of 85, hardly fits the media-endorsed stereotypes of anti-G20 activists.
The G20 comprises the political leadership of the G7 states, plus that of the European Union superstate and other leading world economies, supported by an army of well-paid technocrats. However, corporate/state media prefer to report that the G20 comprises the G7, plus the European Union and other leading world economies, thus eroding any concession to class distinctions in the real world.
See also : G20 comes to Pittsburgh (September 17, 2009).
State authorities have developed and continue to implement (and to revise) a fairly standard repertoire of repressive tactics inre (anti-)summit protests. In addition to reinforcing otherwise routine forms of infiltration and surveillance of protest movements, authorities:
i) conduct propaganda campaigns — in conjunction with state/corporate media, selected public figures and media and political commentators — aimed at transforming the image of the ‘good’ protester into that of the ‘bad’ terrorist, raising expectations of ‘protester violence’, and thus justifying and providing a pretext for paramilitary-style policing;
ii) introduce new or augment existing laws in order to provide for a wider range of offences and greatly increased penalties inre protest activities;
iii) ensure police are able to perform their duties either with virtual legal immunity for their actions or in the reasonable expectation of having the responsibility for any unfavourable legal outcomes assumed by the state;
iv) identify and target for arrest presumed ‘leaders’ (either before, during or after protest activity);
v) construct (temporary) walls and establish perimeters around summit locations, often including the designation of particular areas as being under special laws;
vi) conduct pre-emptive strikes upon convergence spaces, frequently involving mass arrests, and invariably the identification of those present and the collation of (other) materials leading to the identification of (other) participants;
vii) sever, on the basis of tactical differences, links between groups operating in coalition;
viii) destroy and/or seriously damage and/or confiscate materials intended to be used in the course of protest or during its organisation;
ix) obstruct the activities of independent media, legal monitoring and medical aid in particular.